The cold war is over and the defense budget is going down. Thequestion for the presidential candidates is: how far? In making these reductions, what sorts of weapons could be dispensed with? What sort of military capabilities could be trimmed? Both President Bush and Governor Clinton insist their plans will result in more flexible forces designed for quick dispatch to hot spots around the world. BUSH

Proposes reducing planned defense budget authority by $44 billion over the next five years, representing a savings of about 20 percent. Would reduce total number of personnel on active duty to 1.6 million by 1997, down from 2.2 million high in 1987. Wants 150,000 of those troops to remain based in Europe. Favors 12 deployable aircraft carriers for the Navy, down from 16 in late 1980s.

Supports a new generation of modern military equipment, including the F-22 fighter, the Comanche helicopter, a new Navy bomber, the C-17 airlifter, and continued development of "star wars" defenses against ballistic missiles.

Says new national strategy focuses on possible regional conflicts, instead of containment of communism. Urges continued strong commitment to NATO and maintenance of a United States military presence in South Korea, Japan, and elsewhere. CLINTONProposes cutting defense spending by $100 billion through 1997, for a savings of more than one-third. Would reduce the active duty military to 1.4 million, with only 75,000-100,000 personnel still based in Europe. Favors limiting the Navy to 10 carriers.Accuses Pre sident Bush of simply shrinking the existing cold war force structure instead of designing it for the likely conflicts in the future. Favors V-22 tilt-rotor aircraft for rapid deployment, which administration has opposed in the past. Supports continued production of Seawolf attack submarines, another weapon the White House has tried to cancel.Says allies should shoulder more of the burden of collective defense. Would order a summit of Army, Navy, and Air Force leaders aimed at eliminating duplication in rol es and missions.

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